Learn. On my relentless quest to be an informed and ethical consumer, (because I wholeheartedly believe we vote with our dollars, more than anything else), I ran across this article and campaign against sandblasted jeans. “Sandblasting, a process that involves workers firing sand under high pressure to give jeans a ‘worn’ look, can cause silicosis, a potentially lethal pulmonary disease. The process has led to the deaths of scores of workers in garment producing countries like Turkey” (cleanclothes.org).
Think. For some reason, this image deeply resonated with me. From the BBC, this picture depicts the safer alternative to sandblasting jeans – hand distressing. You can see the workers sitting on the floor, working away by rubbing the jeans down with sandpaper or another abrasive. Then it hit me. Someone, on the other side of the world, sits on a factory floor, manually distressing my jeans, for hours at a time, for far less than a living wage. Then the absurdity of buying “distressed jeans” dawned on me in its full weight, upon seeing this picture. Furthermore, I thought, someone on the other side of the world has been/or still is sandblasting my jeans (and risking their lives for no reason) for my pursuit of the “Jones” and/or discount fashion. And if you think about it, the mentality of discount shopping (i.e., getting the cheapest “best” price on a product, no matter the human or ethical cost) is very self-centered. It’s about me getting the best deal, etc., but I digress.
Act. Educate yourself. Read up on the resources and reports at cleanclothes.org, Green America, and more. Become a conscientious consumer – buy thrift, fair trade garments, embrace clothing swaps, and advocate for change by mobilizing your community. If you don’t know where to start, start with yourself. Start learning.
Also, be sure to check out and sign Change.org’s petition on this matter.